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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blu-ray and HD exclusives aren't so exclusive overseas

The Wall Street Journal discovers an interesting loophole that's being exploited by the brave owners of HD DVD or Blu-ray disc players: apparently, some discs that are exclusive to one format in the US are available in the other format in international versions.

From Sarah McBride's story:

    ...Several dozen titles out in the U.S. exclusively on Blu-ray are available overseas on HD DVD. While studios like Sony, News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney Co. tout their unswerving allegiance to Blu-ray stateside, in other countries titles like Sony's "xXx," Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" and Disney's "The Prestige" are available on HD DVD.

    No overseas travel is necessary to tap into this stream of alternative discs. A visit to a site like does the trick, albeit typically at a higher price than in the U.S. For those reluctant to pay shipping costs from Europe or Asia or worried about currency conversions, gray-market U.S.-based sites such as offer selections.

    The loophole lies in distribution. Studios often farm out DVD sales in other countries to a patchwork of companies with expertise in those markets. Those partner companies sometimes have arrangements to use a high-definition format different from that of the U.S. studio.

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